I got a phone call from my 4th grade daughter’s teacher one day.
She was very upset and said she had to let me know what my daughter had done in class that day. I was scared to death wondering what in the world had happened. She went on to tell me that there was a Vietnamese student who was new to the class that my daughter had apparently had a disagreement over some little thing that happened while in class and she went to report it to the teacher, and she called him "that Chinese boy".
I actually waited a few seconds to see what else she had to say and then I said..."and?...” She stated, "She called him a Chinese boy!!!"
I was dumbfounded! I said, "What is the problem here--I don't understand what she did wrong."
She said the little boy was offended that she called him Chinese. I told her I don't know why that would offend him, that in our family prejudice of any type is not tolerated and I was positive she did not realize what country he came from so that was the only way she knew how to describe him. I told her many adults have trouble distinguishing what country different people come from.
My daughter was sent to the principal’s office for this and was taken out of class for several hours. I spoke with her when she came home and she said the boy was making fun of her because she is a little overweight and she told the teacher and since he was a new student, she didn't know his name so she called him "Chinese boy".
If it were not so stupid, it would be funny!! As far as my husband and I are concerned, this teacher was encouraging prejudice by focusing on this innocent exchange. Actually, what the little boy did in making fun of my daughter deserved more attention then what she did in calling him "Chinese boy".
We spoke to her when she came home and let her know that some people are very sensitive about being called certain names and that this boy was from Vietnam and we went on to explain that they are 2 different countries. My daughter was only 9 yrs old.
I also told the teacher and the principal "If someone called me a "White girl”, or an " American girl" it would not bother me in the least. I never could understand why the teacher made such a big deal out of this.
Editor's Note: By publishing this incident, bigotry is not being promoted in any way, shape, or form. The point of this story is that teachers and administrators can and do take incidents too far. The fear of a lawsuit is real and it does contribute to the overreactions in incidents such as this. Bigotry is real. However this was clearly not the case in this incident. We believe that the teacher should have corrected the situation, made both child apologize to each other and continue with the planned class instruction.